Spellbreak is a sorcery-based battle royale game where players utilize magic gauntlet combinations to combat each other. The game features a basic looting system as well as a number of runes and talents that help provide variety. Unfortunately, that variety in gameplay doesn’t seem to be enough to retain most players. Based on the concurrent player numbers on Steam, since the launch of Chapter 1 on December 14th, the population in the game, as of writing, is steadily dropping.
Giving players a reason to return to the game often is by no means a simple feat. There’s no doubt that developers constantly mull over tangible ideas to retain the players that they currently have, especially with the saturation of live-service titles in the gaming space. With that said, there’s no harm in coming up with possible solutions that the development team at Proletariat could use to revitalize an otherwise diminishing player count.
1. New Game Modes
There’s no doubt that the Battle Royale mode of Spellbreak is considered the main mode of the game. That’s not to say that adding more modes is a bad idea. Back in October, Proletariat added in a new game mode called Clash. This mode is essentially a team deathmatch between two teams of up to 9 players with respawns enabled. As you can expect with the mechanics of the gauntlet spells and runes, Clash is chaotic and fast-paced in contrast to Battle Royale. This difference in playstyles between the two modes is beneficial for those looking for a more casual or faster experience. If there are more different ways to play then that inherently gives players more variety.
A couple of modes that could make an appearance are some versions of capture the flag as well as king of the hill. Introducing these game modes that prioritize an objective could lead to more interesting gameplay elements and ideas that have been otherwise left untapped. Examples of some elements and ideas are more mobility-centric gameplay or experimentation with loot in certain modes.
2. Improvements to Matchmaking and Queues
One potential problem that adding game modes could introduce is a more split up player base amongst them. This is where adding a checklist to the queue could be good, where players just select what modes they are willing to play and then get placed into a lobby based on their preferences similar to how Halo: Master Chief Collection does it. Although, there is one additional component to this.
Spellbreak has proven to have a higher skill ceiling than many other battle royale games. A big factor that contributes to that high skill ceiling is the combination of player mobility with projectile-heavy combat. This leaves newer and less-skilled players out to dry when paired up against high-fragging veterans. A solution to this disparity in skill is the implementation of some kind of skill-based matchmaking(SBMM). SBMM is a matchmaking solution that puts players in a similar pool of skill against each other. As of right now, Spellbreak splits players up based on their mage rank, an in-game level that has nothing to do with skill. Proletariat has stated a number of times, including on Reddit, that they are planning to improve matchmaking at some point in the very near future as they return to work after the turn of the new year.
3. A Player/Community Hub
Admittedly this is a suggestion that can be considered a low priority because game modes and matchmaking are a lot more important to actually playing Spellbreak. With that said, there’s a surprising amount of attention given to the world of Spellbreak that keeping eyes on just the Hollow Lands and not any of the characters seems like a disservice. Being able to view or interact with these characters outside of the menu could help players feel connected to the narrative elements. Something similar to the Inkopolis Square in Splatoon is what comes to mind. This hub, or let’s say an encampment, doesn’t need to replace the regular menu. It could very well remain supplementary to give more to those winding down from the playing. It’s essentially just a small extra for players to do.
All of these suggestions are a lot easier said than done. That doesn’t mean that their additions would be less than beneficial. The fact of the matter is Spellbreak needs something to help retain players that regularly die within the first half of a battle royale game. Whether that is changing the matchmaking or developing more narrative elements, the game needs more diversity in the overall experience. As of right now, queuing, playing your match, then queuing again is not enough to keep players interested.